Adjoining, but not communicating – the entrance being in St.Martin’s Place, Trafalgar Square – is the National Portrait Gallery, a deeply interesting collection of portraits of British celebrities, etc., contained in a building sufficiently dignified in contrast with its neighbour.
Unfortunately, in 1900 the annual Treasury grant to this Gallery was meagre, and many priceless portraits were lost for lack of funds.
For instance, three pictures in the gallery at Mulgrave Castle were offered for three thousand guineas to the trustees, who would have been glad to close the bargain, but they had no money in hand, and the Treasury declined to unloosen its purse-strings in the smallest degree.
One of the pictures is a painting of the late Queen by Wilkie.
Sir Francis Mowatt, Permanent Secretary to the Treasury, in his letter refusing to increase the grant, remarked that “in acquiring examples regard must be had to the celebrity of the person represented rather than to the merits of the artist.”